DISHING IT OUT
Now that he has returned to his gig as an NBA broadcaster on ESPN, the All-Star point guard and former Warriors coach is doling out wisdom as frequently as he once did assists.
DAN PATRICK:Did you realize that Steve Nash has one more assist (10,335) than you for third on the alltime list?
MARK JACKSON: Yes, I am well aware of it. I'm actually contemplating getting in shape and signing a 10-day [contract] with some team and just playing for a minute, throwing some look-aways to get ahead of Nash.
DP:How did you feel when you passed Magic Johnson?
MJ: With all due respect to everyone on the list, Magic Johnson is the greatest point guard to ever play the game. When I passed him, it was an unbelievable feeling.
DP:If I gave you a choice of starting a team with Stephen Curry, Russell Westbrook or James Harden, who do you take?
MJ: I'll say this, the way Westbrook is playing right now is absolutely incredible. He could well be the best player if you took LeBron out of the equation.
DP:Do we not vote for LeBron for MVP just because we want a different story?
MJ: We take LeBron's greatness for granted because we witness it time and time again, but he's the best small forward to ever play the game. Still, we want to fall in love [with someone else].
DP:Did you see that LeBron is upset that his 10-year-old is receiving scholarship offers?
MJ: I totally agree [with him]. Leave these young kids alone. Allow them to develop into young men. If we're going to [recruit kids], let them come out of high school [and play in the NBA].
DP:What did you think of the Mavericks' suspending Rajon Rondo for a game for yelling at coach Rick Carlisle? Rondo has a history.
MJ: Rondo does have a history, but in fairness so does Carlisle, who is a great coach and one of the best in the business. I don't think it's ever fair for a player to cuss out a coach. And I don't think it's ever fair for a coach to cuss out a player. I think there's enough blame for both of them. From what we've been told and what we saw that night, I don't think it was fair to suspend Rondo.
DP:Did any player ever do that to you?
MJ: No, that would never be an issue. Coming in, I'm letting them know that we're going to respect each other as men. Rondo is a father, a husband and a grown man. I can talk to him.
DP:Rondo had problems with Doc Rivers as well.
MJ: There are different styles of coaching. I'm just telling you what worked for me. I played on teams with coaches who would cuss you out. I saw a guy get suspended by a coach who cussed him out and disrespected him. [The player] talked back and they suspended him.
ESPN's Brent Musburger wasn't scared when Kansas State fans rushed the court after beating Kansas, but he told me that something else did give him pause. "As I'm trying to throw it to SportsCenter, a woman reached over and took a selfie. It's the first time I've been live on television when somebody took a selfie." ... Unlike Mark Jackson, CBS basketball analyst Doug Gottlieb has no problem with a coach like Vanderbilt's Kevin Stallings cursing out a player for taunting. "It's a sign of the times," Gottlieb said to me. "We criticize the coach or teacher more than the pupil who stepped out of line." ... Actor Will Forte explained to me why he became a Clippers fan in the 1990s—before it was fashionable. "I got a ton of T-shirts," he said. "They would shoot them up [into the crowd] with a T-shirt gun. Nobody else was up there [to get them]."
MICHAEL J. LEBRECHT II FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (PATRICK)
LAYNE MURDOCH/NBAE/GETTY IMAGES (JACKSON)
SCOTT CLARKE/ESPN IMAGES (MUSBERGER)
JEFF BOTTARI/GETTY IMAGES (GOTTLIEB)
ROBIN MARCHANT/GETTY IMAGES (FORTE)